The developers behind some of the most vaunted video games in recent years, Journey and Flower, have now created a new title called Sky, which launches for the iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV first before hitting other platforms.
Thatgamecompany Unveils 'Sky'
Small indie studio thatgamecompany has always attempted — and succeeded — to challenge the concept of video games. That is, to question its boundaries, manipulate its format, deconstruct its norms, then reconstruct it back as an elevated medium. Both Flower and Journey, released in 2009 and 2012, respectively, exemplify this in numerous ways.
So it's only natural that Sky looks and feels much like its predecessors. But that familiarity feels less like the company is resting on its past laurels and more of a signature. One looks at Sky and they think, "Oh, this is like Journey." It is, yet it's not. It's born out of yet another clever experimentation that seeks to answer what video games could be, not should be.
So that's Sky, which Time says "looks as mesmerizing and visually balletic as indie studio Thatgamecompany's last three games, Flow, Flower and Journey." Thatgamecompany president Jenova Chen revealed it during Apple's Sept. 12 event. He hinted that Sky made heavy use of exploration and collaboration, calling it a "social adventure game."
"There's a lot of the mechanics of the game involving giving," said Chen in a separate interview. He found difficulty in putting the gameplay into simple terms but did say the practice is giving "a common element" in Sky.
What Is 'Sky' About?
What remains unclear is what exactly one needs to do in Sky, or what the game is ultimately about. There are characters who use their capes as parasails — or were those wings? — gliding and leaping through dense clouds. In the distance, what looks to be mountaintops float like an archipelago, hinting at the possibility of a vast world aloft.
In the trailer, the starting point contains several vague symbols on hillsides and pillars. One character casts a powerful light, which diffuses into a glowing orb. Will there be puzzles? Is Sky a goal-based title? It's hard to say for now. Anyway, the studio is less concerned with what a game is and more attuned to what it feels like. Chen described it best, comparing Sky to "the delight of visiting a theme park where lasting memories are made."
As for the controls, Chen briefly demonstrated navigation onstage during the keynote. On Apple TV, everything can be done with one finger using the Siri remote, he said.
Sky launches in winter. Take a look at a teaser below: